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Full text of "My Country And My People"

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IDEALS    OF    LIFE                          121

sincere humanist, seems to need this selfish bait. Nevertheless,
Buddhism has given rise to the great institution of well-to-do
families providing big earthen jars of cold tea for passing
wayfarers on hot summer days. It is, in common phraseology,
a good thing, irrespective of motive.

Many Chinese novels, like the tales of Boccaccio, have
accused the monks and nuns of immorality. This is based on
the universal human delight taken in exposing all forms of
hypocrisy. It is natural and easy therefore to make Casanovas
of Chinese monks, provided with witchcraft and secret
aphrodisiacs. There are actually cases, in certain parts of
Chekiang, for example, where a nunnery is but a house of
prostitution. But on the whole, the charge is unfair, and most
monks are good, retiring, polite and well-behaved people, and
any Don Juan exploits are limited to transgressing individuals,
and are grossly exaggerated in novels for effect. From my
personal observation, most monks are underfed, anaemic and
incapable of such exploits. Besides, this misjudgment is due
to the failure to see the connection between sex and religion in
China. The monks have a greater chance to see beautifully
dressed women than any other class of people in China. The
practice of their religion, whether in private homes or in their
temples, brings them in daily contact with women who are
otherwise shut away from the public. Thanks to the Con-
fucian seclusion of women, the only unimpeachable pretext
for women to appear in public is to go to the temples and
"burn incense." On the first and fifteenth of every month, and
on every festive occasion, the Buddhist temple is the rendezvous
of all the local beauties, married or otherwise, dressed in their
"Sunday best." If any monk eats pork on the sly, he may also
be expected to indulge in occasional irregularities. Add to
this the fact that many monasteries are exceptionally well
endowed, and many monks have plenty of money to spend,
which is the cause of mischief in many cases that have come to
light in recent years. In 1934 a nun actually had the audacity
to sue a monk for infidelity in a Shanghai court. Anything
may happen in China.

I give here a refined example of the literary handling of the
sexual problems of the monks. The poem is called a "Young